Acadia Parish draws visitors year-round with its colorful brand of south Louisiana culture, but here in the heart of the Cajun Harvest Country, things really come to life in the fall. Mild, sunny days and balmy evenings inspire locals and guests to gather outside for events that keep toes tapping and lips smacking. It’s here you’ll find one of Louisiana’s oldest and largest food festivals, the International Rice Festival in charming downtown Crowley—the Rice Capital of the World. Many other seasonal events, bountiful road food, shopping in Crowley’s vibrant historic downtown, and lots more all conspire to make Acadia Parish a truly distinctive destination in the Bayou State.
The Colors—and Cultures—of Cajun Harvest Country
The many rice fields and crawfish ponds you’ll spot throughout the parish are a reminder that this is historic rice country, rooted in the ingenuity of German immigrants who settled in the Roberts Cove area in the late 19th century. These innovative farmers left a fascinating legacy, celebrated during the annual Roberts Cove Germanfest the first weekend each October. (October 1—2). Go and you’ll see festival goers wearing traditional German dress, hear lively German folk music, watch folklore demonstrations, dine on Old World cuisine, and sip German beers on tap. The people of Roberts Cove extend you a hearty, “willkommen!”
Then, get to know Acadia Parish’s French roots at the annual Le Grand Reveil Acadien (October 1—9), an immersive French festival in the town of Church Point at several local sites, all within walking distance of each other. Pick up crafts at an artisan’s market, dance to live Cajun music, sample home-made delicacies in the Cajun cookoff, and hear youth musicians strumming roots music. The festival offers a unique opportunity to hear and speak French throughout the day, culminating with a French Mass at Our Lady of Sacred Heart Church.
Historic downtown Crowley’s resplendent Grand Opera House is something to behold—an ornate two-story theater originally built in 1901, and later, meticulously restored. Experience its majesty when you see Louisiana’s own Amanda Shaw hit the stage on October 15. The ever-energetic and nationally renowned fiddler plays the Opera House in a performance guaranteed to have you out of your seat and on your feet.
From gumbo to boudin, and from jambalaya to étouffée, sauce piquante and red beans, nearly every regional dish in Louisiana’s culinary tableau is buttressed by rice. Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to find an ingredient more essential to Cajun and Creole cooking. The 85th Annual International Rice Festival (October 20) in downtown Crowley celebrates the heritage of this vital local crop, first cultivated here in the 19th century. Every year, tens of thousands come out for the festival which is built around live bands, cooking contests, local foods, kids’ activities, and mountains of fluffy rice cooked to perfection.
In Cajun Harvest Country, no food conversation is complete without mentioning Acadia’s specialty meat markets. Halfway between Crowley & Eunice at the Mowata Store, proprietor Bubba Frey has been feeding the faithful house-made boudin, smoked breakfast sausage, and delectable pork cracklins, as well as harder-to-find seasonal specialties like tasso, ponce, rabbit, guinea, pork tongue, beef tongue, duck, and quail, for decades (if you’re lucky he might even play the fiddle for you). Over in Rayne, Nonc Kev’s Specialty Meats offers a treasure chest of Cajun delicacies: fresh and smoked boudin and Cajun sausage, specialty cuts of pork and beef, cracklins, crawfish pies and fried boudin balls are all here. Don’t leave without trying the Steen’s Syrup boudin roll-ups! Don’t forget the crawfish, either. Around here, fresher means better, and Acadia is home to multiple seafood restaurants offering “pond-to-plate” service, including Hawk’s Crawfish Restaurant (Rayne), Mo’ Crawfish (between Crowley & Eunice), D.I.’s Cajun Restaurant (Basile), and Cajun Claws Seafood Boilers (Duson).
The seat of Acadia Parish, Crowley has more than two hundred buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and its downtown is known as one of the Gulf South’s best preserved. Stroll along brick-lined N. Parkerson Avenue and surrounding streets to find eclectic shops, restaurants and cafes, historic sites, art galleries, and fashion-forward boutiques. Soak in the charm on your own, or join the History Alive! Guided Walking Tour (October 14-15), which explores historic hot spots while providing compelling stories of Crowley’s rich past.
From authentic Cajun food and music, to friendly people and high energy festivals, Acadia Parish is a bucket list destination rich in memory-making adventures.